Thursday, August 06, 2009
Bill Burr @ the Wilbur Theater 2.6.09 Live Review
by Jordan Clifford
Bill Burr is, admittedly, kind of a fag. At least as defined by his buddies, who will f-bomb him for something like using an umbrella in the rain ("Put your head down and hunch your shoulders up. What are you, a fag??"). He explains that, according to this, doing anything that shows any amount of logic or sensitivity makes you a fag—basically, being a good person. Burr's theory (he's got a lot of theories) is that this kind of thing causes men to die early. But what makes Burr kind of a "fag" is that despite his antisocial ranting, he's not really an asshole at all, and that's what makes him so unsettlingly relatable, so damn funny. If he didn't let his sensitive side win over, he'd be doing comedy specials from prison. While that's not in itself a bad idea (Monique did it, sort of), luckily he's on his first national headlining theater tour with his uninformed theories, and it's the best material he's done so far.
What elevates Burr's comedy is a mastery of the Angry Man Perspective style without being the guy you love to hate, or, like the majority of angry comics, hate to hate. He's the guy whose anger you love, because you think it's shared with you alone. He takes observational comedy to new heights through new lows.
After his long overdue, acclaimed one-hour Comedy Central special, Why Do I Do This? (now on CD/DVD), Burr wrote an entirely new hour for the Uninformed Comedy Tour. While the CD/DVD is great, there's nothing like seeing Burr live. He's a ball of bitter energy, a little dog barking like a Doberman. His personality onstage is vibrant and high-volume, and exciting in the way that it looks as if he's thinking of it for the first time.
It's loaded with his disproportionately huge frustration over the minutiae of life, like how pissed you'd have to be to yell the sentence "Fuck this! I'm buying a pumpkin!" Much of his thoughts are the kind that, if most people said them, would make them sound like a lazy, raving prick (like wanting to shout, "I don't fucking work here!" when expected to add condiments to his own deli sandwich and yet still pay for it). When he says it, he's preaching to the choir. Amen, brother.
And it's not depression that makes Burr feel suicidal, but his exceptional laziness. His story about claiming that he'd make a pie for Thanksgiving, and the crippling annoyance that comes with realizing he actually has to do it, mirrors me at my laziest. The biggest laughs come from these tiny tragedies, the places where Burr puts so perfectly into loud and angry words the exact thoughts you reserved solely for your own deranged head. And yet, even in a room with hundreds of others laughing in recognition, you still think it's just you and Burr who really think these things, just as I'm sure he still thinks he's the only one.
He called his new tour Uninformed because that's what he is, and he wants to be perfectly clear that what we're listening to is a guy who doesn't know shit about anything talk about his theories on everything. In the time of Joe the Plumber and YouTube, where anyone can let ignorant bullshit fly to a decent-sized audience of equally stupid morons, I'd normally say that an uninformed person ranting on topics like homosexuality and population control is absolutely the last thing we need. But uninformed or not, Burr's usually not very far off from the truth.
Burr has also focused his uninformed expertise into a pilot for Comedy Central called Purgatory, where he rants on a different topic each week. At the very least, it will be better than Fox News, and with any luck, just as funny.
Worth mentioning is Burr's hand-picked opener, old friend and Boston-native Tony Moschetto. His set, which I've enjoyed many times, is full of self-deprecating honesty and had the crowd laughing the whole way through. His tales of dating, his personal crotch-shaving preference (the Abe Lincoln—use your imagination), coaching tennis and the many levels of MILFdom are framed within the truth that he lives with his mom in a trailer. It's not that bad though, because, like he says, "We have a skirt around our trailer, because we're not scumbags."